How to Look for a Job in the Nursing Field

Salter Nursing Students get a head start with Career Services

Nursing is a field that employs a range of professionals, from home health aides who visit patients in their homes, to nursing assistants who work with nursing home residents, to practical nurses, who may work in hospitals and doctor’s offices, to registered nurses, who provide a wide range of clinical services.

Whatever nursing program you do, finding your first nursing job may require a little time and patience. At the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, NH, we work with our students to develop strong career building skills. With the right job search strategies, students can be well on their way to their new career. If you are starting your job search now, be sure to try some of these tips.

1. Use the Career Services office at your school
The best place to start your job search is right in your own school of nursing. Most nursing schools have Career Services professionals who are trained to help you with your job search. They provide resume assistance, mock interviews, and job referrals. The Career Services office may also have access to job leads and other resources to alert you to new job openings. Be sure to take advantage of their services!

2. Begin networking
Rather than jumping into online job applications right away, try to start off by making connections in the field of nursing. Talk with others in your field. Tell them that you are on the job market. Having these honest conversations is one of the best ways to learn of new job openings. Here are some tips for networking:

  • Tell friends, family, and others that you are looking for a job.
  • Ask nurses you know for advice on your job search.
  • Ask nurses about their own careers and how they got started as a nurse.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.
  • Volunteer at a healthcare facility.
  • Join a professional association.

For more tips on networking, read Networking Tips Every Healthcare Professional Can Use.

3. Make your resume computer-friendly
Online job searching is a great way to learn about the many available positions for practical nurses, nursing assistants, patient care technicians, and more. However, remember that many people are applying for these positions, so you want to do everything you can to help bring your resume to the top. Many hospitals use resume tracking systems, which means that only the top resumes actually make it into the hands of a human being. To increase your chance of making it through the resume scanner, try these tips:

  • Simple formatting. Do not over-format your resume. Formatting codes can confuse the resume scanner. Use basic fonts and avoid graphics, logos, symbols, and other formatting.
  • Simple headings. When creating your resume, use standard headings like Skills, Education, and Experience. These are easier for the computer scanner to understand.
  • No PDFs. Scanners still have trouble reading PDF documents. It’s safer to submit your resume as a Word file or a text file.
  • Keywords. Read the job posting and determine the words that you think are keywords. The resume scanners are programmed to look for certain important keywords among all the resumes. The keywords will usually be the words relating to nursing skills and other critical job skills. Be sure to use these words several times in your resume.
  • Sample resume. If you need help getting started on your resume, try this sample Practical Nurse resume for ideas.

4. Focus your job search
Looking for nursing jobs online can drain hours and hours of your time. You want to make your time as productive as possible and not waste time on jobs that you are unlikely to get.

  • Target certain employers. Select certain hospitals or healthcare providers where you want to work. Check their websites for job listings rather than searching through tons of job ads on CareerBuilder or Indeed.
  • Apply for jobs selectively. If you don’t fit the job requirements, then don’t waste your time applying. The employer is more likely to choose someone else with direct experience.
  • Set up automatic searches. There are hundreds of new jobs posted on the major job sites every day. Rather than spending all your time scrolling through them, set up automatic email alerts with very specific search parameters.
  • Be willing to be flexible. If the job market is tight, you may need to be flexible about your preferences. You may need to travel farther or work a less desirable schedule than you had originally hoped. You might need to look at employers other than hospitals, such as outpatient clinics, private providers, long-term care, home care, or psychiatric facilities. Being flexible may be worth it in order to get yourself started in your career.

Getting started in your nursing career is an exciting time of life. We wish you the best of luck and hope that these tips help to take away some of the mystery of searching for a job.

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